I finally read this because I’ve never yet managed to complete a Thomas Pynchon story. I managed to finish this novel only because it’s short. I’m left confused about many things, but not about this: I enjoy interesting and different books, but books loaded with pretentious intellectualism bore me to death.
There’s story-telling (which entertains and moves its readers) and there’s word play. ‘The Crying of Lot 49’ clearly falls in the last category and, while it might provide many readers with a satisfying read, I find the weirdness too weird, the “cleverness” too clever for its own good and the deliberate manipulation of names, references and language constructs silly. Is Pynchon actually laughing at us, the readers, who swoon at his “brilliance”? Either that or, like Sacha Baron Cohen of the dreadful movie “Borat” fame, Pynchon is a sad man with a rather warped and gloomy view of the world.
As a reader, I want more to a novel than pretentious intellectualism posing as literature. I enjoy reading a wide variety of genres and styles, fiction and non-fiction. I don’t care what I read – as long as it’s good writing and keeps me engaged.
Despite the occasional glimpse of what could attract people to this story (for example, Mucho & Oedipa’s obsessions apparently suggesting ordinary folks’ obsessive need to believe in some kind of reality and order – I say “apparently,” because I’m not entirely sure I “got it”), Pynchon’s writing required too much effort to make any sort of sense to me.
Perhaps that was the point of the difficult, delirious writing style: that, despite modern technology supposedly assisting mankind in communicating, Mucho & Oedipa (representing the average human) were still unable to communicate with each other. This novel, far from solving this dilemma, exacerbated it!
It does have its moments of post-modernist epiphany (modern life is uncertain; there is no guarantee of a happy ending), but I’m a reader who prefers a more traditional (and optimistic!) form of story-telling and will leave Pynchon’s existential explorations of an entropic society to those readers who prefer ‘high literature.’